Shantidhama, a no-compromise home for the aged

Comfortable

Senior citizens have to stay away from their children and grandchildren due to various reasons. It is difficult for them to manage day-to-day activities like paying electricity bill and providing copies of the bill to gas agencies and food and civil supplies offices.

It is also not wise to hire domestic help as most of them turn out to be unreliable. So the only option is old-age homes. However, such homes have turned out to be nightmarish for some senior citizens due to lack of cleanliness and mismanagement.

Vasavi Shantidhama, a senior citizen’s resort, established by Sri Vasavi Shanthidhama Public Charitable Trust, at Alanahalli Extension, off T Narasipura road, in Mysore, does not look like an old-age home. Shantidhama, a dream project of honorary secretary of the trust B V Srinivasa Gupta, stresses on providing all basic amenities and facilities with care.

There are 25 cottages and 62 rooms in Shantidhama, spread over 5 acres of land, with all basic furniture, provision for hot water, clean drinking water, UPS for uninterrupted power supply. While a temple, Gothra Rishi vana and Vanaspathi Navagraha cater to the spiritual needs of the residents, a library, cinema show, fountain park and garden provide relaxation. Apart from the common television, residents can have their own TV sets and get cable connection. Participation of people from neighbouring areas and villages is encouraged for Sathyanarayana pooja, Sankasta Chaturthi and on festivals to make the residents mingle with all people.

A doctor visits Shantidhama every week to ensure the health of all residents. Doctors and ambulance are also available on call at emergencies. Medicines are provided at a discount of 10 per cent on cost. A physiotherapist visits the place five days a week and his services are free of cost.

Hygienic food – depending on dietary preferences of residents – is provided at a common dining hall, which also serves as a meeting point for all of them. Food is delivered at the doorsteps of some bed-ridden residents.

At present, there are 130 residents and 30 employees at Shantidhama. Only accommodation differs among various categories of residents while all other facilities are uniform. While 25 per cent of the residents have been provided free accommodation, 25 per cent have been given concession. The rest choose accommodation suitable to their or their caretakers’ resources. There are only a few dormitories.

Most of them are designed to house two members. However, some of them choose to stay alone to make room when their children or grandchildren visit. A V Venkatachala Gupta, 80, who is staying here with his wife for the past 10 years, when Shantidhama began, is the manager. He, himself a senior citizen, understands the problems of the residents well and takes all steps to make their stay comfortable.

Hale at 96

The senior-most of the residents is K Srinivasan, who celebrated his 96 th birthday recently. He retired as inspector of police in 1955 and was working as a supervisor in a private security agency till the age of 82. He was admitted to the ashram seven years ago after the demise of his wife and son. All residents of Shantidhama hope that he hits the century mark.

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